What does your personal development plan look like? Is it daily and intentional? Are you (or somebody else) holding you accountable? In the third episode of our Executive Leadership podcast, John Maxwell Company’s Perry Holley and Chris Goede share tips for a personal development plan that will help you grow as a leader and, in turn, grow your team.
Read the transcript below:
Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast where our goal is to help you increase your level of influence, increase your reputation as a leader, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to drive remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a certified John Maxwell Facilitator and Coach, and I’m Chris Goede, Vice President with The John Maxwell Company. Welcome and thank you for joining. Chris, today’s episode is titled, “You Cannot Give What You Do Not Have.” Please tell me what that means.
Well, this statement is one of John’s foundational concepts and it reminds us that our role as a leader is to help our followers and others we influence to go to the next level. We are to be pouring into them so that they can grow and develop, but you can’t pour into others if you’re not pouring into yourselves. We say all the time, you cannot give what you do not possess. The other thing is many leaders think that just simply by being the boss that you have all you need to lead your team. The truth is is that your team will never outgrow you as a leader.
That reminds me, I think the first law of John’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is the Law of the Lid, isn’t it?
Yeah, it is. And it’s funny if you follow John or if you’ve seen him do a lesson on the Law of the Lid, you have heard this sound and those that are familiar with it, know what he’s doing. He’s standing there and he’s got one hand out in front of them about chest high and the other one just keeps butting up against that hand. So he talks about the fact that your leadership ability determines your level of effectiveness, so you’re never going to grow your effectiveness unless you grow yourself, and growing yourself has to be intentional and it has to be daily. Just like another law in the 21 Laws, the Law of Process is where he says leadership develops daily, not in a day.
So when you say daily, I get that. So what’s a daily development plan look like?
I think it’s going to look different for each of us. I know coming back to John for an example, one of the things that he talks about and it’s taught me is that he has a rule of five, and this is something that he does every single day. It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas or if it’s his birthday, it doesn’t matter if it’s Saturday or Sunday. He does this every day. He does these five things. Every day, he reads. Every day, he writes. Every day, he asks questions. Every day, he files, and every day he thinks. He jokes around and says, “Listen, I’m a boring guy, but consistently every day with intentionality, I do those.” For me, it comes back when you asked that question. To me, the first thing I think about is you have to have a plan and you’ve got to be intentional about that, that’s big for us.
So for me, I live in Atlanta where our corporate headquarters are. I have a pretty long commute and it gets worse when there’s traffic. And, so, I’ve developed a plan where every morning I spend probably 60 to 90 minutes listening to a book on Audible or a podcast. You may be doing that right now in your car — this may be part of your plan — but for me that’s what that looks like. The other time that I really kind of try to be intentional about is when I’m flying, I will take my laptop and I’ll do emails. But prior to getting to 10,000 feet and then after 10,000 feet when they shut our Wifi off, I try to have a book with me or an article to where I’m using that time to read.
Well, I’ll tell you this concept that was probably what attracted me to John Maxwell teachings from the start was when I found myself a little bit out of control. I’m getting up as late as possible, running as fast as possible, being out of control all day, and I just really listening to John, talk about your personal development time, your day, your morning routine. I would say the morning routine probably I’ll credit that with changing my life in the direction of my life, and for me a morning routine is the great place to have a development plan. Most people will miss it because they say, “I don’t have time”. And I thought, well, what time are you getting up? What time do you go to bed last night? There’s a lot of challenges there. I get up at the same time every day doing the same three to four things or five things like John does. For me, it’s been a real game changer.
When you hear testimonies like that and you hear the impact that it’s made on people, you know the impact that it’s made on yourself, what do you think then still hinders people the most when it comes to committing to a personal development plan?
It’s funny you asked that because when I speak about this from the stage, I’ll say, “you need to do this every day”. And the first question I get is, “what exactly do you mean by every day?” And I think that as human beings, we basically struggle with anything we have to do every day. I saw that I was asking a group of people, have they ever heard that the Dentistry Association tells you that if you floss your teeth every day, when you get old, your teeth will not fall out. And they all say yes. I say, how many of you floss your teeth every day? Or how many of you actually say, how many of you struggle with flossing your teeth every day? And all the hands go up. And then I say, please do not raise your hands. I do not want to know who you are, but how many of you struggle with brushing your teeth every day?
And of course we have a smile about that, but we don’t miss that. Why? Because there’s an immediate consequence. It’s gross. You’ll be in the middle of a conversation. You’ll say, I’ll be right back. You’ll take care of it because there’s an immediate consequence. The funny thing about personal development is if I don’t read this morning, there’s no immediate consequence. It won’t show up today. It will show up at the end of the year when it’s 12 books I didn’t read. If I didn’t make that prospecting call that I needed to do or think about that industry paper I wanted to read, that’s not going to show up today. It won’t even show up till the end of the quarter, the end of the year when it’s 15 calls I didn’t make or 15 podcasts I didn’t listen to. In fact, most of the things we need to do to grow ourselves and improve as leaders and increase our influence have no consequences today or even this week. Over the weeks and months, it leads to putting that lid, as we talked about earlier, on our effectiveness and my ability to grow and develop my team is now limited. So what is an area where you think people struggle in personal development? Cause that’s what I’m seeing.
It’s funny. Real quick, before I go there, I was just thinking about when you were talking. I find myself at times because I do work in the leadership development space and I worked for a personal growth expert and a leadership expert, we live a lot of it out in the organization. I believe in it personally, but sometimes I get tired of it. I’m just being honest with you – on the ride in, I’m going to listen to a sports talk radio show or country music. I know I did it this morning versus listening to something that is stretching my thinking or giving me a different perspective on a certain situation. But you know what I find is very interesting is that when I’m leading a team or when I’m being asked to innovate or to add value to a meeting, when I am not pouring back into myself and this goes right back to you, you know, you cannot give what you do not have, I’ll sit there and I’ll be like, yeah, I got nothing for you. Or if I do, it’s old stuff. Right?
So when I find myself immersed in my intentional development plan or sticking to that routine, even on mornings that I don’t want to do it, I’ll be in meetings and I’ll say something and I’ll be like, who just said that? Like, that was really good stuff. Where did that come from? Right, and you find yourself just being able to hear what you know through the development plan. You’re learning, you’re sitting there, you’re thinking about it, you’re reflecting on it and before you know, you make it your own and then you’re adding value to others with it because of the personal development plan. So, I was just thinking about that while you were saying that and that’s one of the biggest reasons and motivators for me to do that, but I think so many people think that it’s just too much.
They get frustrated and they quit and I know that that’s how I started when I started being like, OK yeah, I’m all in, and then I would just get frustrated and quit and then I started seeing the benefits of it, which encouraged me to set up something that we call irreducible minimums An irreducible minimum is the minimum you can do in a certain area that cannot be reduced. Like every day there’s, there’s no if, ands or buts. There’s no excuses. This is going to be your irreducible minimum. And so it shouldn’t be so small in an area that someone might laugh at you about it, right? But, it’s the fact that you’re committing to doing that every day. So for example, and I’ve gotten this from you because I know that you’ve encouraged me to do it at times, I know you’ve encouraged your son and some of the other family members, those that you coached to do it, as well.
So I give you the credit for this where you say, listen, your irreducible minimum when it comes to reading, let’s say, should be two pages a day. Now that sounds like nothing, but it has to be how often. Every day, right? That’s what you taught me. Are you going to plow through a lot of books at two pages a day? No, but you will get through a lot more than you would have if you read zero pages a day. What you will find with irreducible minimums is that if the light is right, that the house is quiet, your coffee is hot and you read two chapters, that’s bonus reading, but it is good for you. But if you’re rushed and things are crazy and you’re trying to get the kids out the door and you’re only able to read two pages at the end of the day, you gave yourself a check mark because that was your irreducible minimum, that was successful for you and I do recommend that you track it because it’ll hold you.
The tracking was big for me because I said, I’m going to read two pages. I’m going to write 50 words and 50 words, most of your emails are longer than 50 words. That’s nothing. If I wanted to write a book, well, you’re not gonna. How long is it going to take? It doesn’t matter. It’s more than I would’ve ever wrote zero words, but I saw a comedian, Jerry Seinfeld talking about his habit of writing something every day. He had a large poster sized calendar on the back of a door and he put a red mark on every day that he did the writing and his motto began, don’t break the chain, don’t break the chain, is that I’ve got to write something today or I can’t put that mark up there. So my encouragement to our listeners and to us is to make sure you do something every day, no matter how small it is, because even if it’s small, you’re making progress in that area.
And I think I do agree with that. We set two big goals, big great intentions, and then we get burnt out, tired or distracted and we don’t do it. And I’ve never been successful and what I intended to do only on what I actually did. So two pages are better than zero pages. 50 words are better than zero words. I actually did for health one pushup a day. Can you get in shape with one pushup a day? No, but once I’m on the floor and then the light is right and nobody’s watching and I do 15 or 20 and then roll over into a couple of push-ups. Now I’ve got to start a health plan, but if I buy a hundred $75 gym membership and promise I’m going to go to an hour and a half a day every day for five days, I can’t move my arms over my head and I quit. So, irreducible as a way to start small and make a great impact.
And here’s one thing I would say about that. Even though they may be small, I would still encourage you to have someone hold you accountable to that. You know, we’ve talked about charting it and I think one of the things we talk a lot about the John Maxwell company is we coach executives in mid line managers and leaders of all industries, is we say there’s really three things that happen when you’re being coached or our philosophy behind coaching. First of all, we want to be able to ask you the tough questions, right? Give our, from our perspective a third party, not in it where we can ask you the tough questions. The other thing is we want to help you build an action plan to be able to accomplish the next 30 days. And then most importantly, which kind of ties back to what we’re talking about right here and even to these irreducible minimums is we want to hold you accountable to that action plan and you know, accountability, 1e could pair you and I could do a whole lesson on accountability, um, but it really ties into becoming a productive, our producer at level three leader.
We often hold people accountable because we know what’s on the other side and they don’t. Think about it as I’m was just having this conversation with, with my kids. I have teenagers and from an accountability standpoint, those sometimes aren’t fun conversations. Uh, we’ve got to be a parent versus a friend. And I have to hold them accountable because on the other side of some of the things we’re talking about is a four letter word called LIFE. And they just don’t know yet, but I am coaching them through that process and I have to hold them accountable. So, it all comes down to, you know, John Talks about in one of his books, the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, Law of Intentionality, which says the growth doesn’t just happen. We’ve got to make an intentional effort on a daily basis to grow. As author and speaker Jim Rowan liked to say “you can’t change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”
Man, I love that. Chris, as we close remind us, again, we’re talking about the five levels and we’re talking about, um, your personal development and your growth plan. But, how does that personal development relate to the 5 Levels we look at closing out this podcast.
Well, the 5 Levels is all about growing your influence so you can drive results for your organization. As a level three leader member. A level three influence is what you are doing for the organization. So people are following you because you are a producer, you have credibility. I talk a lot to some of the sales leaders and we talk about this model to where, listen, how many of you have a quota as a leader? Well, not many of them raised their hand and I’m like, why wouldn’t you? You still need to be producing as a leader for the organization in some form and why not it be a quota so that those that are following you see the fact that you are still producing and building credibility as a producer in order to grow your Level 3 influence, and so to do that, not only are you going to have to produce, but you’re going to have to invest in people to do that, you will need to invest in yourself because as we’ve said a couple of times today, you cannot give what you do not have. Fantastic. Thanks for the good word and thank you for joining the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.